Position Breakdown: TE

See how things are shaking out at the tight spot during spring practice as we continue our position-by-position breakdown of the Nittany Lions.

Tight End

WHO'S BACK: Mickey Shuler (rs-senior)*, Andrew Szczerba (rs-soph), Andrew Quarless (senior)

WHO'S GONE: Greg Miskinis

NEW FACES: Brennan Coakley (rs-senior), Mark Wedderburn (rs-frosh)

LOWDOWN: Once a staple of the Penn State passing game, the tight end has become something of a forgotten position in the Spread HD. All told, tight ends COMBINED for 21 catches for 346 yards and two touchdowns in 2008. By comparison, the three leading wideouts — Deon Butler, Derrick Williams and Jordan Norwood — combined for 132 catches for 1,932 yards and 17 TDs. With all three of those wideouts now gone, though, the staff is hinting that it may bring the tight ends, particularly the experienced Shuler and Quarless, back into play in the passing game. That would seem to make sense. Shuler is more athletic than you might think and is a solid route-runner who has good hands. Quarless has proven that when he has his head on straight, he can be one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the nation. Szczerba is more of a blocking specialist, so don't count on him catching many passes in 2009. Wedderburn has the length (6-foot-6) and speed to be a weapon in the passing game. But he'll have to add a bit of bulk if he hopes to emerge as an every-down player once Shuler and Quarless are gone. An off-season illness caused him to drop down into the 225-pound range. In the meantime, Coakley served as a student assistant coach in 2008 while recovering from a knee injury. His career appeared to be over, and he was even introduced with the other departing players on Senior Day last November. But he has decided to return and give football once last shot.

Mickey Shuler

THE HEAT IS ON: Quarless once had the look of a can't-miss NFL prospect. But discipline issues have sidetracked his career. He has the skills to be an impact player at the next level. But does he have the common sense? He has one season left to prove what he can do.

KEEP ON EYE ON: Word out of Lasch Building is that Quarless is making an honest effort at rededicating himself. He reportedly has been impressive in the weight room and during informal winter passing drills and spring ball.

BY THE NUMBERS: Penn State tight ends have not contributed more than three TD catches in a season since the much-maligned Mike Lukac and Casey Williams combined for six in 2002.

Quarterback Breakdown
Running Back Breakdown
Wideout Breakdown


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